The recruitment world is abuzz with the effectiveness of social networking as a venue for finding your next great hire. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all surrounded with buzz about how having a presence and connecting with people will help you find the perfect candidate for that difficult-to-fill position.
Spending the majority of my time looking for construction professionals in mostly craft positions, I am finding that these tools just are not what they are cracked up to be. Is it just my industry? Does my target audience really have no computer skills? Is it the adage of “if they are good, they are working?” Is it the marketplace? Are employees really so worried abut jumping ship that they are not looking? Are employers so wrapped up in having to hire industry experts that they can’t look at someone who has the skills but not the industry experience? Is it because we have no presence in this market? Is it the pay rate people are making? Many companies have been in a wage freeze and those that are hiring are paying based on the “new wage structure” that is less than what was being paid before this recession.
Working from the recruiter side of the world, it is difficult for me to pin down which factor is affecting my ability to find talent. It almost feels like it is a combination of all these factors. I am struggling to find licensed electricians for a job site in the Houston area. I have advertised on Craigslist, Backpage, local newspapers, the Workforce Center, word of mouth, solicited references for lists of candidates and am facing the challenge of finding four to six more licensed electricians. Although the state-wide electrical license is fairly new to Texas, it is far more advanced than some states and allow you to verify a license online. The state even has Excel spreadsheets you can download (Thought I won the lotto with that! Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of everyone with a license). Unfortunately, I am spending many East Coast evenings cold calling and not getting a single call back, or connecting with individuals who have recently been disabled, are making 1.5 times what I am willing to pay or I am being directed to contact the local shop steward.
I have had most of my luck finding electricians through the old network. Using connections current employees have with a trade association to connect with the association’s Houston-area office allowed me to gain access to candidates actively pursuing work. This pool consists of a variety of candidates in the electrical world who do not have exact industry experience (not many mechanical bridges being built in Houston). When I hire someone whose experience is mostly commercial (outfitting retail establishments with electrical wiring) the job site complains that the new hires do not have the knowledge to do the work. Apparently four-inch rigid conduit is much more difficult to work with than three-quarter-inch EMT. (It is but this hire just needs a little bit of coaching. Try putting me there and the foreman will be begging for commercial-experienced electricians!)
Thus far the association contact is second to local referrals from those few quality hires we brought on board early in the project. Word of mouth still seems to have the strongest and best ability to bring candidates on board who have the skills, knowledge and interest. This is really frustrating to tech-savvy individuals such as myself who believe social networking can and should be the well that qualified candidates should be springing forth from. Is it me? Is it the industry I am in? Is it the economy? Is it the marketplace this job is in?
I'm wondering if any blog readers have suggestions, ideas, comments that they would be willing to share that would help me and other recruiters facing similar obstacles in their search for that hard-to-fill position.